Question: I recently had my heart broken by a guy I truly adored. I still don’t know why he dumped me. How does non-separation protect you from this heart-ache?
Michael Richardson-Borne: It doesn’t. The realization of non-separation won’t gain you any special privileges. It is a common misconception that awakening gets one something, that it is something gained. Actually, it’s almost the very opposite of this. One annihilates the self. Totally. Which is nothing lost and nothing gained– non-separation is locating the movement that is closer to you than your own skin. But people who locate this movement do not win a prize. They find truth. That is all.
So if your motivation is for awakening to be some kind of defense against feeling life and all that comes with it, I suggest you stop your seeking now. Non-separation is not a protection against living.
Which brings me to another misconception. Many people who are new to the path imagine non-separation as a detached aloofness. They believe non-separation is a reason to leave the world and all of its challenges. They believe it’s a way to exist in either emotional neutrality or some kind of constantly blissful state. Both of these beliefs prove one’s immaturity and ignorance. In non-separation, all experiences are still felt to their core– they just aren’t felt or experienced by anyone specifically. But this different context most definitely does not protect one from feeling the ups and downs of life.
As a matter of fact, if anything, life could hurt even more as, most times, non-separation means being fully open to all that comes your way. Author, Ken Wilber, has a well-known quote about this where he says, “Hurts more. Bothers you less.” What he’s saying here is that non-separation opens one to the full experience of life while also providing an understanding that this life is not happening to anyone specific– it’s a life being passionately lived by a single movement which also happens to include all of one’s thoughts, feelings, and emotions.
When it comes to breakups and heartache, there are usually two people who imagine themselves to be separate entities who are “together.” Each separate entity is an autonomous doer that has its own individual will that is acted out in a personal way. When two perceived entities do this together, it’s called “relationship.” When they stop acting out their personal wills together, it’s called a breakup and many times, heart-ache ensues. What would happen if all of this activity was seen and experienced in an impersonal way where neither entity was considered an autonomous doer?
Q: It would probably be much easier to let go and accept what happens. But, why do people play games while in a relationship?
MR-B: What you are really asking is why you can’t seem to get the assurance or safety you seek in relationship. The answer is because it doesn’t exist.
Any safety you think you have only exists as a story in your mind. You are welcomed to continue with this story and to have this perceived safety and assurance– but the only real safety and assurance is non-separation. Which, again, will not protect you from feeling anything that you are destined to feel or empower you to control situations any more than you do today.
When your boyfriend decided to move on, remember that it was not his decision. He was being acted, not acting against you in some way. It was not a rejection of “you” by “him” as neither of these pronouns exists in the way you currently believe.
So, in a sense, you were dumped by God. Feel it this way and see if the context relieves a bit of the sting of your mental pain. Getting dumped by the movement of God may still suck but you will begin to see that what happened could have been no other way. All of life is an impersonal happening.
Q: Where does the safety I’m looking for exist?
MR-B: Inside of you and the understanding of who you are.
The nature of engagement changes once you realize the basic condition of relationship is non-separation. But to understand this, you must turn within and ask yourself, Who am I? Who or what is aware of the pain you are experiencing right now due to your recent break-up? Discovering what I am pointing to may not relieve you of your pain, but it will relieve you of your questions because you will understand the foundational movement of life.
I love the line when she says, “I gave you ride or die, you gave me games.” With non-separation, existence itself becomes ride or die. Every moment is alive and is a ride or die moment. This doesn’t mean a risky sort of outlaw life– it means being fully lived into every moment no matter what one is doing, from the ecstatically fun to the more banal moments of one’s life.
But when games do happen, and they will, there is ample room for compassion and forgiveness (both for yourself and the person you are relating with) as you have realized the impersonalness of all that is occurring. It’s not that you don’t move on and keep what we consider normal boundaries, it’s that you understand that this is not anyone’s decision from either end. So you are more open to blessing their journey, no matter what it looks like– and how it impacts the story you have of yourself and the way things “should” be.
Q: So you are saying I should stop worrying about relationship so much?
MR-B: I’m not saying whether to worry or not to worry– I’m saying that you have no control either way, so you may as well relax into your worry or lack thereof.
Your question reveals that you still believe there is a you to make a choice one way or the other. Ask yourself who this “I” is. You may find that the I you think you are is not the case.
Q: How do you know this?
MR-B: There is no self to know or not know. That’s how this knowing arises.
Non-separation isn’t a collection of selves playing in the human world. But don’t take my word for it. This statement is just another concept to throw away. The mind may think it knows things, but it’s all just another story that is part of the same living process.
Q: How do I get this kind of knowing for myself?
MR-B: Become diligent about finding out who you really are. And surrender to the process, not an outcome. Apply this to all of your relationships as well.